Well, words for camel in Slavic languages like Czech and Russian possibly come from an Ancient Greek word meaning elephant.
In Czech the word for camel is velbloud [ˈvɛlblou̯t], which comes from the Proto-Slavic *velьb(l)ǫdъ / vъlьb(l)ǫdъ (camel), from the Gothic 𐌿𐌻𐌱𐌰𐌽𐌳𐌿𐍃 (ulbandus – camel), from the Latin elephantus (elephant), from the Ancient Greek ἐλέφας (eléphas – elephant) [source].
Words from camel in other Slavic languages come from the same root: верблюд (verbljúd) in Russian and Ukrainian, вярблюд (vjarbljúd) in Belarusian, wielbłąd in Polish, and so on [source].
These all come from the Gothic 𐌿𐌻𐌱𐌰𐌽𐌳𐌿𐍃 (ulbandus), but from there the etmological trial gets a bit hazy, as they quite often do. Traditionally this word is thought to derive from the Greek ἐλέφας, via the Latin elephantus.
Another theory is that the Gothic word comes from the Proto-Germanic *elpanduz (elephant, camel), which possibly comes from the Hittite word hu(wa)lpant (humpback), or from another ancient language of Anatolian such as Luwian [source].
The word for elephant in Czech (and also in Slovak, Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian) is slon [slon], which comes from the Proto-Slavic *slonъ (elephant) [source], which comes either from the Turkish aslan (lion), or from *sloniti (to lean against), relating to the medieval story of an elephant sleeping leaning on a tree [source].
It comes from the Proto-Slavic word *milъ (sweet, dear), from the Proto-Indo-European word *meh₁y- (mild, soft).
The Czech word milý (nice, kind, good, dear, pleasant, sweet; boyfriend) comes from the same root, as do similar words in other Slavic languages, such as the Belarusian мілы (sweet, nice), the Bulgarian мил (dear), and the Polish miły (nice, pleasant).
The Latin mītis (gentle, mild, ripe) comes from the same Proto-Indo-European root, as does the Italian word mite (mild, moderate, balmy), the Portuguese word mitigar (to mitigate), the Spanish word mitigar (to mitigate, alleviate, allay, assuage, quench, soothe), and the English word mitigate.
In my Czech lessons this week I learnt two words that can mean face – obličej [ˈoblɪt͡ʃɛj] and tvář [tvaːr̝̊], which also means cheek. I couldn’t work out why one was used to mean face in some contexts, and the other in other contexts. Can any of you enlighten me?
Obličej comes from the Proto-Slavic ob + lice (face, cheek), which is also the root of the Czech líc (front, face, right side, face side) and líce (cheeks).
Cognates in other Slavic languages include: Polish oblicze (face, character), Russian обличье (image, character, look), and Ukrainian обли́ччя (face, character) [source].
Tvář comes from the Proto-Slavic *tvarь (creation, creature) [source]. Cognates in other Slavic languages include: Polish twarz (face), Russian тварь (creature, being, animal, beast, monster; mean, vile, worthless), and Croatian tvar (substance, material) [source].
Another Czech word for face is ksicht, from the German Gesicht (face).
When putting together a post on my Celtiadur today, I discovered that the English word slew (a large amount) is related to words in Celtic languages for troop, army, host or throng, and to words for servant in Slavic languages.
Slew was in fact borrowed from Irish – from the word slua (host, force, army; crowd, multitude, throng), from the Old Irish slúag / slóg (army, host; throng, crowd, company, assembly), from Proto-Celtic *slougos (troop, army), from the Proto-Indo-European *slowgʰos / *slowgos (entourage).
There are similar words in the other Celtic languages, including llu in Welsh, which means host, multitude, throng, crowd, flock, army, or regiment, and appears in the Welsh word for police: heddlu (hedd = peace).
In Manx the equivalent is sleih, which is the general word for people, and also means public, family, relations, inhabitants, crowd or populace.
Words for servant in Slavic languages, such as sluha in Czech and Slovak, sługa in Polish, and слуга (sluga) in Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Bulgarian and Macedonian, all come from the same root, via the the Proto-Slavic word sluga (servant).
Another English word that comes from the same root is slogan, from the Scottish Gaelic sluagh-ghairm (battle cry), from the Old Irish slúag / slóg (army) and gairm (a call, cry) [source].
I came across a wonderful word yesterday – bibble – which means to eat and/or drink noisily, or to tipple. Or in Yiddish it means to worry.
It comes from the Middle English bibben (to drink), from the Latin bibō (I drink), from Proto-Indo-European *peh₃- (to drink) [source].
If you’re a bibbling bibbler, you may need a bib, which comes from the same root, and originally meant to drink heartily [source]. While bibbling, maybe you’ll engage in some bibble-babble (idle talk, babble), possibly in a bibbery (drinking house), which would be bibacious.
The words imbibe, potion and potable come from the same root, as do words for to drink in various languaages, including: ól (Irish), òl (Scottish Gaelic), yfed (Welsh), eva (Cornish), boire (French), and beber (Spanish, Portuguese, Galician, Asturian & Aragonese).
Words for beer Slavic languages come from the same root as well: pivo (Croatian, Czech, Slovak & Slovenian), piwo (Polish, Sorbian), and пиво (Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Macedonian & Serbian).
In Slovenian beseda [bɛˈséːda] is the word for word or term.
Some expressions featuring beseda include:
– besedna igra = wordplay, pun, play on words
– brez besed = speechless (with shock etc.)
– častna beseda = word of honour
– dati častno besedo = to give one’s word
– držal te bom za besedo = I am going to take you at your word
– mož beseda = man of hono(u)r
– z besedo na dan! = spit it out! let the cat out (of the bag)!
This comes from the Proto-Slavic *besěda, which originally meant sitting outdoors (at night), then an outdoor gathering, or a conversation or speech at such a gathering.
*besěda comes from *bez (outside) and *sěděti (to sit).
– Belarusian: слова (slova)
– Russian: слово (slovo)
– Ukrainian: слово (slovo)
– Bulgarian: дума (duma); слово (slovo)
– Macedonian: збор (zbor)
– Serbian: реч (reč)
– Croatian: rije
– Czech: slovo
– Slovak: slovo
– Polish: słowo
Slovo, and variations, comes from the Proto-Slavic *slovo (word), from the Proto-Indo-European *ḱléwos (fame), which is also the root of the Welsh clyw (hearing), the Irish clú (honour, praise, fame), the Latvian slava (rumor, reputation, fame), and the Greek κλέος (kléos – renown, fame, honour).
Today I saw a post on Facebook asking why words for horse are so different in languages like English and German, so I thought I’d investigate.
In English horse-related words include horse, stallion (male horse), mare (female horse), foal (young horse), filly (young female horse), colt (young male horse), pony (a small breed of horse), and equine (a horse or horse-like animal; related to horses).
Horse comes from the Middle English horse / hors, from the Old English hors (horse), from the Proto-Germanic *hrussą (horse), from the Proto-Indo-European *ḱr̥sos (horse), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱers- (to run) [source]. This is also the root of the Proto-Celtic word *karros (wagon), from which we get the currus (chariot), and the English words car, cart and chariot, and related words in other languages.
Stallion comes from the Middle English stalion, from the Middle French estalon and is of Germanic origin [source].
Mare comes from the Middle English mare / mere, from the Old English mere / miere (female horse, mare), from the Proto-Germanic *marhijō (female horse) [source].
Foal comes from the Middle English fole, from the Old English fola, from the Proto-Germanic *fulô, from the Proto-Indo-European *pōlH- (animal young) [source]
Colt comes from the Old English colt (young donkey, young camel), from the Proto-Germanic *kultaz (plump; stump; thick shape, bulb), from the Proto-Indo-European *gelt- (something round, pregnant belly, child in the womb), from *gel- (to ball up, amass) [source].
Pony comes from the Scots powny, from the Middle French poulenet (little foal), from the Late Latin pullanus (young of an animal), from pullus (foal) [source].
Equine comes from the Latin equīnus (of or pertaining to horses), from equus (horse) [source].
The equivalent words in other European languages include:
The German word Pferd and the Dutch paard come from the Middle High German phert / pherit / pferift (riding horse), from the Old High German pherit / pfarifrit / parafred, from the Late Latin paraverēdus (substitute post horse) [source], from para-, from the Ancient Greek παρά (from, by, near) & verēdus (a fast or light breed of horse), from the Proto-Celtic *uɸorēdos (horse) [source], *uɸo- (under) & *rēdo- (to ride; riding, chariot), from the Proto-Indo-European *(H)reydʰ- (to ride) [source].
The words hengst and hingst come from the Proto-Indo-European *ḱanḱest- / *kankest- (horse), which is also the root of the Welsh, Cornish and Breton words for mare, and of the Old English word for horse or stallion, hengest.
Romance / Italic languages
equuleus equulus pullus vitulus
In Latin there was another word for horse – caballus, which was only used in poetry in Classical Latin, and was the normal word for horse in Late and Vulgar Latin. It possibly comes from the Gaulish caballos [source]. This is also the root of the English words cavalry, cavalier, cavalcade and chivalry,
The word equus comes from the Proto-Italic *ekwos, from the Proto-Indo-European *h₁éḱwos (horse) [source].
The Scottish Gaelic word for horse, each, comes from the
Old Irish ech (horse), from Proto-Celtic *ekʷos (horse), from the Proto-Indo-European *h₁éḱwos (horse), which is also the root of the Breton, Cornish and Welsh words for foal.
The Breton marc’h (horse), the Cornish margh (horse) and the Welsh march (stallion) come from the Proto-Brythonic *marx (horse), from Proto-Celtic *markos (horse), from the Proto-Indo-European *márkos (horse). [source]. This is also the root of the Irish marcaigh (to ride), the Scottish Gaelic marcaich (to ride), and the Manx markiagh (to ride).
The Russian word for horse, лошадь, is a borrowing from a Turkic language, probably Tatar [source].
The other Slavic words for horse come from the Proto-Slavic konjь (horse), of unceratin origin [source].
In many languages this month is known as December, or something similar, which comes ultimately from the Latin *decumo-mēnsris (of the tenth month) – the Roman calendar started in March (mārtius) [source].
However in some languages December has a completely different name:
In Welsh December is Rhagfyr [ˈr̥aɡvɨ̞r], which means the ‘foreshortening’, from rhagfyrhau (to foreshorten), from rhag (a prefix with various meanings) and byr (short, small) [source].
In Breton December is miz Kerzu [miz ˈkɛʁ.zy] – which means ‘very dark month’. The Cornish for December is similar and has the same meaning: Mys Kevardhu [source].
In Scottish Gaelic December is Dùbhlachd, From dubh (dark), so it’s a dark time [source].
In Irish December is Mí na Nollag (the month of Christmas). Nollag is the genetive of Nollaig, which comes from the Old Irish Notlaic (Christmas), from Latin nātālīcia (a birthday party), from nātālis (natal), from nātus (born) [source].
In Finnish December is joulukuu (Christmas/yule moon) [source], which was also the meaning of the Old English word for this month: Gēolmōnaþ.
In Czech December is prosinec [prɔsɪnɛt͡s], which comes from prosinoti (flashing, shining) [source].
In Polish December is grudzień [ˈɡru.d͡ʑɛɲ], from the Proto-Slavic *grudьnъ, from *gruda (heap, lump) & *-ьnъ [source].
Are there interesting names for December in other languages?
In Romanian the word for orange (the fruit) is portocală [portoˈkalə]. This comes from the Greek πορτοκάλι (portokáli – orange), from the Venetian portogallo (orange), from the Italian Portogallo (Portugal).
An number of other languages get their word for orange from the same root:
Portuguese merchants were probably the first to introduce oranges to Europe, hence the link between oranges and Portugal.
In some languages oranges are known as “Chinese apples”: Apfelsine (German), appelsien / sinaasappel (Dutch), apelsin (Swedish), etc. This makes sense as oranges were first cultivated in China in about 2,500 BC.
Words for oranges in some Slavic languages come from the Old French pomme d’orenge: pomeranč (Czech), pomaranča (Slovene), pomarańcza (Polish).
The word orange derives from नारङ्ग (nāraṅga) – “orange tree” in Sanskrit, which is probably of Dravidian origin. The word for orange in Portuguese, laranja, comes from this root.
The colour orange was named after the fruit. In Old English the colour orange was referred to as ġeolurēad (yellow-red), or ġeolucrog (yellow-saffron) [source].